Welcome to another edition of #SFWITWednesday, Salesforce’s Women in Tech Wednesday when we celebrate all things WIT-related!

One of the perks working at Salesforce is Volunteer Time Off (VTO). Salesforce essentially pays me to go do volunteer work for four hours a month, or 6 days a year.

I’m a female developer at Salesforce and I had been toying with the idea of teaching at a coding club for my VTO. However, the thought of facing a classroom full of high school girls was intimidating. Will they relate to me? What if they end up hating my class? Do I really want to subject myself to this?

I thought about it for a long while before taking the plunge with Girls Who Code, which is a non-profit organization that does background checks on their instructors, trains them via online videos, provides curriculum, and supports the clubs throughout the academic year. I’ve now been teaching for 6 months, and it’s been an awesome experience!

The girls who attend are eager to learn and super smart.  Relating to them is not a problem – they’re already engaged and interested in coding. There’s a thorough curriculum provided where the girls get to build fun things right away while learning the basics of algorithms. I can simply use numerous PowerPoint presentations already created for teaching the content. When I spend time with the curriculum material, I get to code fun little assignments – JavaScript graphics, mobile apps, Scratch apps – you name it. These can be relaxing and fun. They kindle creativity and get me interested in projects outside my day-to-day coding. The first few assignments I teach the girls involve things like drawing and creating mini video games. The languages/platforms used are available online via Scratch or Khan Academy so there is no setup or installation to get going.

The club I teach is called San Mateo Unified High School District Girls Who Code Club, which meets at the Burlingame Library on Sunday afternoons. It’s a large club with students from several schools in the area – Burlingame High School, Aragon High School, San Mateo High School, and Mills High School.

The best part is when I see eyes light up and hear excitement in the girls’ voices saying, “Look! I got it working!” It reminds me why I got into this field in the first place. The thrill of figuring out a problem and getting software to work never gets old. Knowing that I was instrumental in a girl seeing what’s fun and addictive about coding is icing on the cake. I also love when my students exceed expectations. I had one of my star students come up with an alternate way to solve a tricky programming assignment the curriculum didn’t have. I was so happy and impressed to see that.

If even a few students consider a major in computer science because of my efforts, it would be so worth it. And even if they don’t, I hope they will leave knowing that coding is fun and that they are just as good at it as anyone else.

If you are a coder, I encourage you to find a club in your area and teach. Instead of dwelling on the lack of women in technology, you’ll be out there making a difference and feeling great about it too.

Yasoja learned to code in high school and carried on to major in computer science. Since then, she has been working as a developer for over a decade. Yasoja is currently working for Salesforce where she writes sales forecasting software. She is passionate about getting more women into technology, and wanted to teach some awesome girls how to code.

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